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Bioessays. 2003 Jan;25(1):72-8.

Outsourcing in the brain: do neurons depend on cholesterol delivery by astrocytes?

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Max-Planck/CNRS Group, UPR2356, Centre de Neurochimie, Strasbourg, France.


Brain function depends on the cooperation between highly specialized cells. Neurons generate electrical signals and glial cells provide structural and metabolic support. Here, I propose a new kind of job-sharing between neurons and astrocytes. Recent studies on primary cultures of highly purified neurons from the rodent central nervous system (CNS) suggest that, during development, neurons reduce or even abandon cholesterol synthesis to save energy and import cholesterol from astrocytes via lipoproteins. The cholesterol shuttle may be restricted to compartments distant from the soma including synapses and may be regulated by electrical activity. Testing these hypotheses will help to improve our still insufficient understanding of brain cholesterol metabolism and its role in neurodegeneration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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